What has been your ultimate journey?
my ultimate journey is not at a linear journey. not like a: super cool neat mathematical equation where all sides balance ending in numerical epiphany kind of journey. my journey is not a perfectly folded floral sheet with experienced hands nor a happy ending love song riddled with couplets. not like circle yes or no if you like me. not like any of those things.
my journey is happening as i type. as i remind myself to breathe. my journey is not about endings but a woodland of beginnings, ah-ha/oh no/yes yes moments, recollections and conjuring’s. along the way benchmarks flashing neon purple reminding me to do and undo. my ultimate journey—happening now, in real time, in real breath is about allowing myself to ride shotgun with this lifetime’s version of my complete self. who that goddess/woman/warrior/unicorn/peace fighter/writer is (or is not) is an embryonic elder.
if the organization police arrested me and told me to sticky note arrange my journey as it has been for the last 40 years, i would say that the last half has been the most challenging and the third eye opening. living in japan for the last year and moving back to seattle just over a month ago (a tremendous amount of life can happen in 365 days) has made me feel born again. not like religiosity born again. not like go off into the woods and come back a perfect creature born again. not like newborn baby. more like—lotus. lotus in a pair of jeans and tank top. lotus writing.
i am not afraid to skip away from the me i loved. i’m not afraid to carry sections of her and amalgam her up with the newness of myself. with the parts i boarded up in an abandoned vagina. my. self. free gyrl. my journey is also about meeting other sheros along the way who have been infected with a disease called, who me? you mean me? you mean i’m amazing? you mean i didn’t lose my wings? and share a mirror. a hug. a talking too. a listen. a booty bump. a manuscript swap.
my ultimate journey…the one that is ever evolving and whooshing itself around is also about going on a scavenger hunt for pieces of my big picture life collage that have been systematically discarded or shoved in a coat closet and proactively deciding if those pieces need to join me or if i can leave them peacefully in a blue jean notebook, a refurbished recycle bin or a salted margarita glass.
nope. this journey is not linear or square or elbows off the table.
me + japan= a years’ worth of life lessons
a few life lessons/experiences
(1) i am a spoiled brat sometimes. i missed my “space,” but i didn’t really need all the space i missed. i wanted a big house, big bathroom & wide roads but i didn’t need any of that. i learned about internal space. filling my lungs with space. filling my heart with space. filling my eyes with space. filling the page with space.
(2) it’s very hard to be your total self or to overcome trust issues when language barrier is bullying you. i was ready to trek japan & all it had to offer except in the beginning i didn’t speak one ounce of the language and if you can’t ask where to pee, what you are eating or when the train stops running your ____________.
(3) i am a very affectionate person. i’m a lifelong hug practitioner. japan wasn’t very accepting of my hug practice. this at first was a great blow to my arms, heart, and chest. but living there i grew to understand that affection/love/honor/respect & even hello can take on many forms just as heartfelt as a hug. i packed my hugs away for a bit & became deeply involved in being a better listener, observer, writer & bower. i also came back with a greater appreciation for below the surface hugs & distaste for phony/let’s do lunch but not really hugs.
excerpt from a conversation with a lovely, amazing japanese woman about hugging:
me: i rarely see people hugging here. but i haven’t been everywhere so…
lovely woman: well, when i visit the states i see everyone hugging and think to myself why strangers would want to exchange full on/body to body contact with no prior knowledge of each other? weird. but i did not go to every state in the united states, just nyc, la, and idaho.
me: hm. good point. but it is always wonderful to greet people you love with a hug or sometimes, not all the time but sometimes two strangers can indeed connect through a hug even without prior knowing each other—anything.
lovely woman- (silence)
me: (reaching out to hug)
lovely woman- (kind of receiving hug)
me: (nervously backing away)
lovely woman: (laughing)
me: okay that was awkward.
lovely woman: yes it was.
after we chatted it up i hugged her goodbye and she bowed back. it was perfect.
(4) you think you have read all there is to know about a place until you get there and you find out a. all of it was true no matter how ridiculous it sounds or b. all of it was bullshit no matter how ridiculous it sounds.
(5) sleep is indeed a luxury. i learned how to treat it as such, getting it in ways or in places i never thought i would.
(6) it is actually a good idea not to walk around with food and drink in hand—and yes, it makes malls, streets, and bathrooms look a whole lot cleaner. did i want to order my latte and traipse around the mall? yes. did i? yes.
(7) remember when your grandparents told you pointing was rude? use an open palm.
(8) i learned that i am picky about food even though i claimed i wasn’t. sometimes i didn’t know what i was eating and sometimes it was labeled and i wish it wasn’t. i can’t say for sure if i really wanted to know i was eating_________________ before i ate it. after…not so bad.
(9) i suppose i am not a bathroom care-er, as in, i never cared who heard me pee, i mean that’s what i do in the bathroom number one or number two. i was amazed that in many bathrooms music was attached to the toilet to accompany your peeing or pooping and a lovely fragrance spray for afterwards …as well as many liquid spritzers for your vaginal and anal sanitation. in the end, i’m just an old fashioned toilet squatter who never cared if the next door stall heard what i was doing. get in. take care of business. get out.
(10) elders are important. i know that going and i came back with an even greater appreciation for them. i understand more clearly how valuable they are. japanese culture helped me take that thinking to a higher level.
(11) saying bless you after a sneeze is not done in japan. it was a hard habit to break but as i researched the history of “bless you…” it wasn’t a hard habit to break any longer. (yall will have to forgive me if i don’t say it anymore.)
How do you start? How do you end?
inhale. i give thanks. exhale. i remind myself not to remind myself about my visible and invisible imperfections—this is followed by doing a kindergarten teacher “quiet coyote” sign to the negative chatter in my head/in the media/on my street/in my mirror/ and in my_________________. inhale. i follow this ritual with an attempted baritone hum/om/whisper and clearing my throat. (sometimes there are words, stanzas or thoughts left over from the day before.) exhale. i end by giving thanks that in this lifetime i get to be this particular me. i end with me standing naked and letting all my body parts know how much they mean to me and how beautiful they are. this is followed by doing a kindergarten teacher “quiet coyote” sign to the negative chatter in my head/in the media/on my street/in my mirror/ and in my_________________. exhale. i end with a colossal white candle and an ancestor role call. (sometimes between the how do i start and how do i end, i tell cancer, poverty, relationship ptsd, fear, white privilege, pillaged villages, isms, heartache, and hymen hijackers to kiss my ass. please.) inhale. i begin again but this time writing. at first free range thoughts running around like chickens. then unborn thoughts like__________ or ____________. then some kind of shape/form/text/p o e m. exhale.
Do you worry about the politics of classification? How do you classify yourself?
once upon a time i did. i forehead line worried because i knew i didn’t really fit inside one box but i didn’t want to unfit in a box either. i believed the box i fit in accompanied the owner’s manual attached to my belly button. i thought that if i fit into a box/category/group/roman numeral iii in an outline, that it would be fine as long as the box was all these different things. in the last five years i have realized there’s no need for a box fitting and in the last year i’ve realized i can’t worry about those on the edge of the box beckoning me to come in or those who speak black sharpie forbidding me to enter. the politics of classification is always around in the way somebody doing lawn work is a steady presence just when i settle into a poem or a new character. the politics of classification is perpetual background disruption be it a whine or shrill. presently i am in a state of allowing myself to be declassified and unclassified. i classify myself as a free womyn embracing change (some days with open arms and some days with twisted lips and major attitude), self- love, words, sexual awareness, vulnerability, ocean talk, divine counsel, proactive activism, less plan, plan “see,” and more do, do, do.
When do you knock a wall down? When do you leave a wall intact?
i knock a wall down when i can’t breathe. unfortunately that might mean i am suffocating from myself. it might mean i am the wall and the one knocking down the wall—which can make me tired as __________. i knock a wall down when the wall hurts. when the wall threatens to hijack my body, spirit, divine wisdom, healthy future or love. i leave a wall intact when i’m not sure what to do yet. i leave a wall intact when there’s a message graffitied on it like you are on the right path or if the wall is asking me to move forward without fear. i leave a wall intact (but kick it) when i know i have to finish a manuscript not because it needs to be published necessarily but because the words have to be out into the world.